Its been a while since Phans could enjoy October. But cold and rain notwithstanding, they are ready to make some noise. Good news: The Phils have yet to lose a playoff game at home and the Phans energize them like no other. Bad News: the Phils are on a record breaking run of futility so far this Series - 1 for 28 with RISP (runners in scoring position) - and Phans are quite edgy, despite the Series being tied 1-1.
The players know their Phans are like family, and like that annoying Uncle Vinny, they won’t keep quiet. The casual fan could find this Pheedback a little puzzling. Here’s a guide to help TV fans get some background to the “crowd noise.” Remember, its all for love……
Charlie Manuel, Manager - Uncle Chol has been relentlessly abused for his Gomer Pyle country boy style and his many dubious managerial moves. Cerebral Tony LaRussa he is NOT. The players love him however and he played through the pain of the recent loss of his mother and Phans have a new-found respect for the guy. In fact, if anyone can get these guys to relax, its Uncle Chol. It’s unlikely that he will be booed - until next April.
Chase Utley, 2B — Phans love his grit, his passion and his blue-collar work ethic. Phans were thrilled to hear him uncharacteristically cuss at booing NY Fans during All-Star game introductions at Yankee Stadium. Chase enjoyed an MVP season early on until George W. Bush said that if he owned a team again, Utley would be his first pick. It was the kiss of death - His production was never the same since. It was a bad year for W, too. Thankfully, Chase picked it up again in the NLCS and started off game 1 of the World Series with a 2-run homer.
Jimmie Rollins, SS - J-Roll makes the engine go and he has been stuck in neutral most of the year after an MVP 2007 season. He infuriated the Phaithful 8 weeks ago by calling them “front-runners” - which they are most definitely not. And Phans let him know loud and clear. His spectacular DP to clinch the NL east and his leadoff home runs in the clinching games of both the NLDS and NLCS got him back in everyone’s good graces,…….sort of. J-Roll is riding a giant 0-fer in the Series so far and the fans are expecting more from him and will let him know it.
Ryan Howard, 1B - big Rhino is a baby-faced giant of a man with a huge swing. Early in the season, those huge swings were too often ugly misses and Phans booed him unmercifully. Rhino had a huge MVP-caliber September and carried the team on his back and the boos turned to cheers. But the bomber who hit 48 homers during the season has not hit a home run in nearly 4 weeks and with the stakes so high now, Phans are anxious for the return of the big one. A few ugly strikeouts and he may hear disapproval again……
Pat Burrell, LF - Pat the Bat has been here longer than most Phillies which means he’s had more than a chorus or two of boos, mostly for his extended slumps with very bad swings. In spite of it all, he remains a great team player and says he loves the town. Phans love him too for allegedly calling former teammate Billy Wagner a “rat” before he departed for the rival Mets in 2006 and then hitting two game-winning HR’s off Wagner when facing him in 2007. But that was last year………Phans so want to cheer Pat the Bat since this may be his final year in Philly, but he hasn’t given them much to cheer about lately; Pat needs to show up in this Series or else………
Shane Victorino, CF - The Flyin Hawaiian is the epitome of everything Phans like - a little guy with lots of hustle, a little muscle and not afraid to tussle. He is an even bigger hero to Phans now that PETA is after him because he said that his favorite food is SPAM. Phans hope he can get this team scoring again and will cheer him and wave their towels frantically to egg him on. Hopefully, Charlie moves him up in the lineup so he can set the table for the big boys.
Jason Werth, RF - In his first year as a starter, this tall skinny kid has been a pleasant surprise with his bat and glove. Phans appreciate a great story like Jason but he has been Werthless in the Series so far - his ugly swings and misses with runners on base killing way too many scoring chances. Jason has not yet earned enough props to get his recent futility overlooked completely. A few more little league swings with runners on base and he may want to wear ear-plugs.
Brad Lidge, Closer - Lights Out is the player most responsible for the Phils getting here. Phans love what this guy has done - the Phils have yet to lose a ninth-inning lead this year - 86 and counting, and most of them with Lidge on the mound. At the end of the season, he could have blown a save and he would still have been given a standing ovation. At this point however, with so much at stake, Phans are holding their collective breath…… They so want to see this guy finish his perfect season with the last out of the 2008 World Series, jumping high in the air and setting off a raucous celebration way into the night and all through the winter.